By D. Allan Kerr
Make no mistake – 6 January 2021 was a great day for Americans.
Yeah, most of us will never forget images of our Capitol Building under attack by terrorists kicking in doors, shattering windows and forcing our elected representatives to flee for their own safety.
A 12-year Capitol Police officer was killed by protesters, a 14-year Air Force veteran was killed by police, and a 34-year-old woman was trampled to death by the mob. These were senseless, avoidable tragedies.
But once the building was again in the hands of law and order, both houses of Congress immediately returned to the floor and finished their historic task of certifying Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.
They defied an angry mob and a dime-store wannabe-dictator and upheld the Constitution.
The chaos and drama also overshadowed two significant events earlier in the day.
We learned not one but both corrupt Georgia Republican senators had been voted out of office, which just a few short months again would have been inconceivable; and in a brilliant stroke which has not yet been fully appreciated, we were told Biden intended to nominate Merrick Garland as the next attorney general.
It was, to me, the embodiment of the old saying, “What goes around comes around.”
I have to admit, I wasn’t so optimistic when I first saw the building being evacuated by Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress, with many having to shelter-in-place.
My initial impulse was, “Dammit, the tangerine bastard’s getting just what he wanted.”
I could easily imagine Donald Trump gloating as he watched all this unfold onscreen at the White House – after, typically, lying to supporters about joining them there at the Capitol, where he could have perhaps urged some restraint.
But that’s not what this was about. As his own former Attorney General Bill Barr said, Trump was “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress.”
Let’s be clear here – Trump’s courtroom challenges and even the objection to the election’s certification by supporters in Congress were all within the legal system. His attempts were farcical, but they did not constitute a coup.
But last Wednesday’s mob scene was clearly an attempted coup.
It was clumsy and clownish, as are most things associated with Trump, but it was an attempted coup nonetheless, a blatant effort to cow Congress into submission thru threat of violence. Some rioters reportedly had zip ties intended to use as handcuffs.
Ultimately, Trump’s effort failed bigly.
Say what you want about Nancy Pelosi, but she is the right person at the right time in history to serve as Speaker of the House.
When she stepped forward and reconvened the House of Representatives just hours after thugs ran wild thru the halls of Congress, I knew everything would be okay.
“To those who strove to deter us from our responsibility, you have failed,” Pelosi said. “To those who engaged in the gleeful desecration of this, our temple of Democracy, American Democracy, justice will be done.”
And in the early morning hours of Thursday, Congress completed its task.
Many questions will have to be answered about the way law enforcement handled the riot. Some have already pointed out the literally black-and-white difference between the response to the mostly white protestors in Washington and the Black Lives Matter protests of last year.
On the other hand, I don’t understand why Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was gunned down by a police officer. She was part of the mob who had breached the Capitol building, but I haven’t heard she was armed or threatening anyone with physical violence.
Her death is reportedly under investigation, as is the murder of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who twice served overseas with the Air National Guard before joining the force. Newspaper accounts say he died after being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher during the riot.
Their deaths, and that of Rosanne Boyland, the Georgia woman who carried a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag to the rally and wound up trampled to death, are on the hands of Trump and his brain trust of Donnie Junior and Rudy Giuliani.
All three incited the crowd prior to the invasion of the Capitol Building, with Giuliani urging the crowd to engage in “trial by combat.” You can’t make this stuff up.
Now cabinet members and staffers are finally jumping off the crazy train known as the Trump presidency. You know things are out of hand when even the obsequious Lindsey Graham says “count me out.”
The day actually got off to a promising start with the announced election of two Democratic senators in Georgia of all places, taking the Senate majority out of the hands of Mitch McConnell.
Hopefully things will actually get done now, after years of McConnell’s apparent intention to just obstruct any action not in his own interests.
Which is what makes Merrick Garland’s expected nomination as attorney general such a masterstroke.
Garland, you’ll recall, was the eminently qualified federal judge whose nomination to the Supreme Court in April 2016 was blocked by Republicans who claimed the choice should be made by the winner of that year’s presidential election.
The GOP exposed their own naked hypocrisy a couple of months ago, when they actually sped up the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett just weeks before a presidential election they correctly expected Trump to lose.
I like to think these are the kind of sleazy tactics which wound up losing McConnell his majority in the Senate.
And Garland’s nomination will serve as a timely reminder that, ultimately, justice wins out in America.
(Jan. 12, 2021)
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